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Legislature Continues Attempts to Reduce Distracted Driving

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, 8 out of 10 accidents in the Commonwealth can be attributed, at least in part, to distracted driving. In just the first few months of 2015, distracted driving claimed 68 lives on Virginia roadways. Many residents wonder when enough will be enough and existing laws will be enforced. Others feel that protections in place are simply inadequate and more needs to be done to create stronger penalties for rule breakers. Nevertheless, these are a few of the existing laws in Virginia that you should be aware of before getting behind the wheel.

Cell phone use in general

In general, most drivers can use a cell phone while driving.  There are, however a couple exceptions. The following people cannot use any cellular device while driving:

  • Student drivers;
  • Commercial drivers while on duty; and
  • People under the age of 18.

Texting and driving

Texting and driving is illegal for all drivers in Virginia. Yet, like many states’ laws on this issue, the law only applies to texting. Therefore, a driver can briefly glance at a cell phone to find a number or dial a friend. Drivers also use their devices for other purposes, such as GPS directions, music applications, and more. These uses are becoming far more widespread than texting.  In fact, according to findings by Edmunds.com, 88 percent of American teens admit to using their phones while driving.

Among the responses, texting and social media were the most common activities report, yet many respondents also admitted to using video and photo applications as well, including Snapchat and Instagram. This is highly disturbing. What could be more distracting to a driver than attempting to take photographs and videos while operating a motor vehicle? Yet these are not included in texting and driving statutes at the moment.

Legislative updates in 2016

While distracted driving is becoming much broader than simple telephone and text usage, change is on its way. Two bills before the legislature may define distracted driving in a broader sense.

Senate Bill 778 & House Bill 73

Senate Bill 778 would make it unlawful for drivers to “select multiple icons or enter multiple letters or text” while driving. This means no checking e-mails, no checking the weather or Facebook. However, GPS and checking a number to dial are excluded activities. Corresponding House Bill 73 mirrors many of the same provisions. It is presently before the House Subcommittee on Transportation.

Distracted driving and automobile accidents

Given the shocking number of accidents that are caused by distracted driving and cell phone use, many are injured every year due to inattentive drivers. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a car accident, due to a distracted driver, you need aggressive legal representation. While evidence of cell phone use may not, by itself, be proof of negligence, if the other driver was in violation of the law, this does create a strong presumption in your favor when trying to prove negligence. Every case is unique, and there are strict time limits on filing your case. Don’t delay. Call Simms Showers, LLP to speak to a skilled Leesburg auto accident attorney today.

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